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7 best facial cleansing brushes and how to shop for one, according to experts

Dermatologists explain how to choose the best facial cleansing brush for you, how to use it and experts and Select editors share some of their top picks.
Here are the face cleansing brushes in 2020 that Dermatologists and skincare experts recommend. Shop the top picks from Clarisonic, PMD, and more.
Facial cleansing brushes can wash away the day’s dirt and grime — here are a few top-rated recommendations from Olay, Clinique and more. nikkimeel / Getty Images

These days we have electric toothbrushes to scrub away plaque and powered massage guns to soothe our muscles after a workout, why not also invest in a device to wash the day’s dirt and grime off your face? Facial cleansing brushes help wash and exfoliate your face for softer skin and to help minimize the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles, according to Select's experts. Many of these brushes can also cost just a fraction of the price of a professional facial, with some manual brushes available for under $10.

SKIP AHEAD Highly rated facial cleansing brushes

We spoke to dermatologists about the benefits of facial cleansing brushes, what to consider when shopping for one and how to best use it. We also got top picks from the experts and our editors and compiled some highly rated options that are in line with our experts’ guidance.

What to look for when shopping for a facial cleansing brush

Facial cleansing brushes can help remove excess oil and makeup, along with sweat, dead skin cells and other debris, according to Dr. Ava Shamban, a board-certified dermatologist, and founder of Ava MD. Generally, the brushes mildly exfoliate using movement and friction to lift what's sitting on the surface of the stratum corneum, which is the outer layer of the skin.

Shamban suggested looking for a few key features when considering the best facial cleansing brush for you.

  • A user-friendly shape and weight that feels good in your hand and is easy to use.
  • Multiple bristles that are easy to keep clean. Silicone bristles are non-porous and “easy to get squeaky clean” compared to nylon brushes, Shamban said. And the more bristles, the better. (For top-rated brushes that didn’t have silicone brush heads, we prioritized options with easily replaceable brush heads so that you’re regularly using a clean brush.)
  • Multiple speeds and settings that can target different areas of the face or can be adjusted for when “you’re taking makeup off or just doing a gentle cleanse,” said Shamban.

It’s important to find a face cleansing brush that won’t cause unnecessary damage, especially if you have sensitive skin. Dr. Adam Mamelak, an Austin-based dermatologist, said there can be side effects when using facial brushes, but the key is knowing your skin: “Sensitive skin types and those with rosacea have to be careful with brushes and exfoliating as they can lead to increased irritation."

Top-rated cleansing brushes in 2022

Experts told us that facial cleansing brushes can be a great way to elevate your nighttime skin-care routine by gently exfoliating and removing makeup, dirt and other impurities from your face. To help guide you through the shopping process, we’ve rounded up some expert-recommended picks from Mamalek and Shamban, some of our editors' favorites as well as top-rated options at popular retailers like Amazon, Target and Ulta. All of the following brushes are simple to hold and use and have silicone bristles or replaceable brush heads, based on our experts’ guidance.

Highly rated cleansing brushes to consider

FOREO Luna 3

Select editorial director Lauren Swanson has used Foreo cleansing brushes for years, and the Luna 3, with its gentle nylon bristles, is her favorite. “There’s one purple face mask that I love, but it won’t wash away unless I use this brush,” Swanson said. “The tiny bristles really get my skin clean without harming it.” The brush is waterproof and can pulse at 12 different intensities, which helps to lift away dirt, oil and excess sebum, the brand says. If you want to cleanse at the gym or while traveling, there's also the Luna Mini 3. The Luna 3 has a 4.4-star average rating from over 3,000 reviews at Amazon, and the Luna Mini 3 has a 4.6-star average rating from over 500 reviews at Ulta.

CLINIQUE Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush

The oval-shaped head on this brush allows you to better clean hard-to-reach areas, said Mamelak. It uses sonic vibration to cleanse the skin gently, making it safe for all skin types including sensitive skin, according to Clinique. You can choose between four brush head attachments — Acne Solutions, City Block Purifying, Extra Gentle and Purifying — to cater to your specific skin issues. Or, you can use it to evenly apply makeup by attaching a sponge brush, the brand says. While the brush head is not silicone, replacements are available at multiple retailers (Clinique recommends switching them out every three months). The device has a 4.8-star average rating from 371 reviews on Amazon.

NågraCoola Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush

Associate updates editor Zoe Malin bought this rechargeable brush two years ago because it was one of the more affordable options. “It’s gentle, but you can definitely feel it scrubbing,” said Malin. The battery also "lasts forever," according to Malin — in fact, she’s only had to charge it twice since buying the brush. NågraCoola says the device is 100% waterproof, has silicone bristles that remove “99.5% of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells," five intensities to customize to the sensitivity of your skin and a heating mode to help open pores. The NågraCool has a 4.4-star average rating from over 6,400 reviews on Amazon.

Etude My Beauty Tool Jellyfish Silicone Brush

Though this guide is mostly concerned with powered brushes that do the scrubbing for you, we included this favorite from Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg, who finds this silicone brush gentle on her sensitive skin (Etude also mentions this as a benefit). Ginsberg also loves its cute, cat-like face (though some retailers say it’s a jellyfish). The no-frills brush is easy to wash, compact and costs just $6. It has a 4.4-star average rating from over 4,700 reviews on Amazon.

Olay Regenerist Facial Cleansing Brush

Olay Regenerist’s soft-bristle facial cleansing brush offers two speeds — one for daily deep cleansing and the other for gentle exfoliation — and it primes your skin to “maximize the hydrating effect of your moisturizer,” according to the brand. Olay says you can use the water-resistant device in the shower, and it comes with two brush heads (replacements are sold separately in packs of two). The brush earned a 4.5-star average rating from 21,400 reviews on Amazon.

Spa Sciences NOVA Sonic Cleaning Brush

This three-speed, waterproof cleansing brush from Spa Sciences is rechargeable and uses sonic technology to eliminate dirt, oil, makeup and dead skin cells, the brand says. The replaceable brush head has 20,000 bristles with antimicrobial protection that can get to hard-to-reach places, like around the nose area, according to the brand. The brush has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 600 reviews at Target.

PMD’s Clean Smart Facial Cleansing Device

PMD’s battery-powered Clean Smart Facial Cleansing Device — which has a 4-star average rating from more than 11,400 reviews on Sephora — is a waterproof silicone brush and massager that offers up to 7,000 vibrations per minute for a deep clean, according to the brand. Use the bristled brush in either gentle vibration or intense vibration mode for cleansing, says PMD, and the non-bristled backside of the tool in gentle pulsation or intense pulsation mode for applying lotions or serums. The brush is suitable for all skin types, according to the brand.

Tips for using a facial cleansing brush

Because facial cleansing brushes offer a deeper clean, you should use one no more than once or twice a week, according to Mamelak. Some devices, like the Luna 3, recommend cleansing for no more than three minutes at a time. You want “to make sure your skin tolerates it well,” Mamelak said.

The best thing to do is to find a face brush and face cleanser that works well with your skin type. As a general rule, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol when washing your face.

How to care for your facial cleansing brush

Touchless skin gadgets “are a great tool to help keep bacteria from transferring from fingers to face,” said Shamban, but they have to be properly cared for. Foreo, for example, recommends keeping its silicone gadgets clean with simple soap and water and patting it dry with a linen cloth or towel to help prevent bacteria from forming. With nylon brush heads, you’ll want to replace them regularly — Clinique, for example, recommends replacing its brush's head every three months.

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